Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 16, 2007

From: evanston, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Growing native grasses in containeers in Illinois
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi. How well would native grasses grow in container gardens in Illinois? What soil would you suggest? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Native grasses should work just fine in a container garden. One note of caution; plants in containers are far more susceptible to freeze damage than those in the ground. If you plan to overwinter your grasses in containers they will likely need some protection during hard freezes.

Two parts good garden soil mixed with one part commercial potting media makes a good container mix. Garden soil alone is usually too heavy and drains too slowly to make a good container soil. On the other hand, peat moss and perlite mixes alone tend to dry out too quickly as they don't hold water well enough. A balanced mix will usually work well for two to three years before needing to be replaced.

Here are some attractive grasses native to Illinois:

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn)

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (silver beardgrass)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Indian woodoats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Paspalum floridanum (Florida paspalum)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
October 11, 2012 - I am looking for a list of native ground covers and grasses(not lawn grass).
view the full question and answer

Frequency of mowing on native grasses
November 17, 2006 - I live on 5 acres in TX Hill Country. I love the native grasses when they are high and blowing, etc. My husband insists on mowing, claiming that by mowing, the grasses grow more rapidly over the dry...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

Plants for creek bank in North Carolina
April 29, 2011 - I would like a list of plant options to plant on an almost vertical creek bank in some location in Charlotte, NC. The creek runs through a 300 acre basin, maybe 3 or 4' high banks and I have never se...
view the full question and answer

Retention ponds for states in southeast, from Greenville SC
July 14, 2012 - We provide maintenance for Stormwater detention ponds and are looking for native grasses to plant in the bottom and sides of typically dry detention basins. Prefer low growing grasses that spread to...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.